Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Wickedest Cult in the World

This one's for the Poor Oppressed Christians out there who think that they're being oppressed whenever somebody says "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" during the winter season. These fools have absolutely no idea what it means to be a member of a minority religion. When Christianity is mentioned in the Western media it is treated with kid gloves. Sure, fringe Christian groups that are engaged in genuinely hateful activities like the Westboro Baptist Church attract condemnation, but for the most part? Religious beliefs are almost always accorded the special status of being above criticism - that is, so long as those beliefs are Christian.

I'm a Thelemite and an initiate of OTO. The order has been in the news recently because Peaches Geldof, a British celebrity who I have to confess I had never heard of before the current flurry of publicity, is apparently an initiate and has not been shy about announcing it to the world. This prompted British media outlets - who a century ago were busy smearing Aleister Crowley with wild abandon - to start looking into what the heck this "Thelema" thing was all about. What this incredibly offensive article from The Guardian reports is that Thelema is a "stupid cult" which is also apparently worse than Scientology. If Huffington Post putting up a single article listing books about Paganism represents a mortal offense to Poor Oppressed Christianity, I can't even imagine the level of whining that an article like this one about their religion would provoke.

Here's a sample. When was the last time a widely-circulated publication purporting to be an actual news outlet treated any mainstream religion as disrespectfully as this?

So why is it in the news? Why are stupid cults ever in the news?

Ah. Because of a famous stupid cultist? Bingo. In this case, Peaches Geldof.

Daughter of Bob? Yes, that Peaches Geldof, former dabbler in Scientology and present owner-operator of a heart-shaped "OTO" tattoo.

What has she done? Tweeted a picture from one of the cult's books to her 148,000 followers with the message: "#93 #Thelema #o.t.o for all my fellow Thelemites on instagram!"

And what exactly is a Thelemite? A believer in Thelema.

Which is? The religion created by occultist, practitioner of "sex magic", "wickedest man in the world" and former head of the Order of the Oriental Templars, Aleister Crowley, based on the central tenet: "Do what thou wilt."

Meaning? Meaning, in practice, rituals based around sexual exhaustion and, for the highest level members of the Order of the Oriental Templars, instruction in secret techniques for masturbation, heterosexual and homosexual sex. Crowley wrote the religion's founding text, The Book of the Law, in 1904, after an angel and messenger of the Egyptian gods named Aiwass appeared to him while he was on holiday in Cairo with his wife. Although obviously that didn't happen.

I think she may have been better off with the Scientologists. Now there's a sad state of affairs.

I'm not even going to address most of this article, as it's so utterly wrong that I don't really know where to start. I will make one point, though. The reason that Scientology gets a bad rap is not because their beliefs are weird, but rather that the organization charges hundreds of thousands of dollars for its "initiates" to advance and engages in strong-armed manipulation of its membership. If you ever try to leave the group will subject you to threats, intimidation, flat-out harassment, lawsuits, and so forth.

None of those things are true about OTO or Thelema. Our beliefs may be strange compared to those of mainstream religions, but I've never heard of any abusive cult tactics being practiced by the order and I've been a member for almost twenty years. If you want to leave, you just leave. And while there are dues and fees related to membership and subsequent initiations, they're less than what many Christians donate voluntarily to their churches.

It doesn't have to be this way. Look magazine, a British fashion publication, also reported on Geldof's OTO membership in an article that is much more fair and evenhanded than this sensational rubbish from The Guardian. Unfortunately it's not online anywhere, but here's a link to a thread discussing it on Google Plus that includes a scan of the article itself in high enough resolution that you can make out most of it.

So Poor Oppressed Christians, seriously, just knock it off. You clearly have no idea how not-oppressed you really are.

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whatever said...

As a Thelemite I agree the article is wrong, unfair, but pretty damn funny:

"Is this, by any chance, a stupid cult? No, actually it's a respected school of academic thought known for its rigorous system of peer-reviewed publishing and many seminal contributions to the philosophy of mind, ethics and epistemology.

Really? No, of course not. It's a stupid cult."

I don't think you're saying that we're oppressed but just to be clear we're not. We're invisible, irrelevant, and unknown to society at large; we're a fringe group in the category of fringe spirituality; but being mocked for one tenth of second before the awareness of our existence slips out of mainstream consciousness for another umpteen years isn't oppression.

Scott Stenwick said...

Of course being made fun of in one article doesn't constitute "oppression." There's nothing about this article that prevents me from going about my daily life or really affects me in any way. My entire point is that the "oppressed Christians" set the bar so laughably low that if they encountered treatment like this I think their heads might physically explode or something.

It's like when people complain about their "free speech rights" being violated because they said something dumb on the Internet and were called offensive names over it, completely ignoring the facts that (1) free speech rights only apply to the restriction of speech by government and (2) if is they didn't, free speech goes both ways.

The bottom line is that if an article this bad about my religion isn't oppression, it's unbelievably stupid to treat "Happy Holidays!" as an existential threat.